Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Ultimate Solution to Trench Warfare

One result of America's declaration of war in April 1917 was the unleashing of the nation's creativity, or Yankee Ingenuity if you will. Here is a proposal from Hugo Gernsbacher, a Luxembourgeois-American inventor, writer, and editor of the journal, Electrical Experimenter.

Click on Image to Enlarge 

The journalists who wrote the accompanying article were both awestruck:

"Extraordinary as this proposition of running ships over the land is the strength of a man's latent desire to kill man is over-stepping, even now, all bounds of the imagination;" and skeptical:

"At once, of course, several objections to Dr. Gernsback's [sic] plan present them selves. First, there is the tremendous weight of the battleship from 10.000 to 30,000 tons. It is difficult to conceive how any wheels could be constructed which would prevent this mighty mass from crushing down into the earth and becoming as immovable as a fort. 

"There is, second, the fact that a ship is built for stresses in the water, and not for the gravitational pull on land.

"And there is, third, the fact that the battleships are armored only down to a certain part of the hull, and that the unarmored part would be vulnerable as a land boat. These objections Doctor Oernsback answers in his article in the Electrical Experimenter, but whether convincingly or not the reader must decide."

Sources and Credits: Richmond Time-Dispatch, 17 June 1917; found at the Library of Congress by Donna G.


  1. Read the history of tank warfare in WWI. It was a pitiful disaster.

  2. Some of his ideas were not as "wacky" as this "Super-Tank." Gernsback's 1911 science fiction novel "Ralph 124C 41+" predicted television, channel surfing, remote control power transmission, video phones, plastics, fluorescent lighting, jukeboxes, rustproof steel, microfilm, hydroponics, vending machines, transcontinental airline service, solar energy, sound movies, synthetic foods and milk, artificial cloth, voice printing, tape recorders, space flight, and radar.

    1. Yep. Hugo Gernsback played a crucial role in creating the science fiction genre.
      To this day the fan awards for best sf stories are called the Hugos,

  3. The Russian Lebedenko or “Tsar Tank” is almost as unlikely an idea as Dr Gernsback's suggestion - but it was in fact built and tested. But none too successfully as the 'tank' never saw front line action and the project was soon abandoned. I got these details (and more) many years ago from the web site - whether it's still available I don't know.